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Reaching the Millennium Development Goal (MDG) 7 targets for safe water and sanitation in Mozambique

safe water and sanitation in Mozambique
© UNICEF Mozambique
Disparities remain between rural and urban areas in the provision of safe water and sanitation in Mozambique.

MAPUTO, Mozambique, 20 June 2011 – Water, sanitation and hygiene promotion continue to be critical development issues in Mozambique. The 2010 WHO/UNICEF Joint Monitoring Programme (JMP) report notes that Mozambique has one of the lowest safe drinking water (47 per cent) and sanitation (17 per cent) coverage worldwide, with significant disparities emerging between rural (water: 29 per cent, sanitation: 4 per cent) and urban (water: 77 per cent, sanitation: 38 per cent) areas. The MDG7 targets for Mozambique remains an additional 3.8 million people to be provided with water supply and 8.3 million with sanitation by 2015. As per the country status overview report, which projects the 1990-2010 trend to 2015, indicates that, if progress is not accelerated, the water supply target will be missed by 17 percentage points, and the sanitation target by 37 percentage points. The critical role played by safe water and sanitation in reducing poverty levels has been recognized in the Government’s current Five Year Plan (2010-2015) and the Country’s Poverty Reduction Action Plan.

The Mozambique component of the cooperation between UNICEF and the Government of the Netherlands in the area of Water, Sanitation and Hygiene, known as the One Million Initiative, was designed to contribute for the achievement of the MDG target 7c: 70 per cent of people with access to improved water sources and 60 per cent with access to sanitation, in the three central provinces of Tete, Manica and Sofala.

The main programme objectives of the One Million Initiative are to provide by 2013 one million people in poor rural areas with safe and sustainable drinking water and hygienic sanitation facilities and applying safe hygiene practices, as well as providing 140,000 learners in 400 primary schools in rural areas with safe school water and sanitation facilities and adopt appropriate hygiene practices. The main strategy for providing improved water sources is the drilling of 2000 boreholes fitted with hand pumps, social mobilization for safe sanitation and hygiene behaviour change through the implementation of the Community Approach to Total Sanitation (CATS). The programme has a strong focus on sustainability and on decentralized capacity development.

Since its start in late 2007, the programme has significantly contributed towards reducing the gap in reaching the targets of MDG7c in the three provinces, by providing access to improved water sources in 18 districts (out of 28) to around 990,000 people and nearly 1.1 million people with access to sanitation facilities. This corresponds to nearly one third of the rural population in those provinces.

This US$ 43 million programme, of which around two thirds are funded by the Government of the Netherlands, is a clear example of strategic and cost-effective interventions towards achieving the MDG targets for water and sanitation.

The programme has served as an experimental garden for several innovative approaches for water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH), while ensuring delivery of quality water and environmental sanitation (WES) services, which has resulted in comprehensive strategies and packages that now are being replicated and scaled-up under the sector-wide approach for WASH activities, also known as the National Rural Water Supply and Sanitation Programme (PRONASAR), which is operational in Mozambique since 2010. Some examples of innovation are community participation and education; the introduction of Community Approach to Total Sanitation (CATS); the efforts towards reducing drilling costs of boreholes; test pilots of innovative water quality testing and data management systems; and the piloting of a performance related incentives scheme for government staff.

The possibility of having a follow-up programme to the One Million Initiative is currently under discussion, as the Government of Mozambique would like to maximize results in terms of  full coverage and sustainable results in the running up to the 2015 MDGs deadline. 

For more information, please contact:

Arild Drivdal, UNICEF Mozambique, tel. (+258) 21 481 100; email:  

Gabriel Pereira, UNICEF Mozambique, tel. (+258) 21 481 100; email:







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